Wednesday, April 09, 2008

How It Feels To Be Broken and In Shock

The first thing that you realize is that the world is spinning, and everything seems drained of color and looks like you're seeing it through a freaky wide angle lens. You don't know what the hell happened, but you remember racing your horse down the trail with your pal.
Then you start to notice things. You hear somebody screaming, and start to feel your body coming back on line, like a computer rebooting.
Then you realize that you're the one screaming, and the animal part of your body is really freaking.
You slowly start to feel the dull throb of broken bones, and you realize your back feels like it's got the worst kink in it, ever.
But when you try to get up, you realize that your right wrist is throbbing something terrible, pulsing like a fire hose being stomped on by godzilla at the same rate your heart is pumping.
Then you find yourself being lifted up by people you didn't realize were there, and you start to reel your brain back into your head from the place where it was floating three feet or so above.
And then you start realizing how much pain you're in.
You look over at your left arm, and think, whoa, that looks wrong, and say
"I think I broke both of my arms".
Right about that time the people helping you realize that there's no way to get a vehicle back to where you fell of that damn horse, and that you'll have to be taken across the lake in the boat.
As you are helped into the boat, you see that the bone in your left arm is snapped clean across, and that it's pushing the skin out to the side.
It's a clean break, not poking through the skin or splintered, and the shock you are in helps keep the reality notched down as you sit there in the boat supported by two people you know but can't remember being there afterwards.
As the boat pounds across the lake, you start to realize that your knee is throbbing like hell, and starting to swell up to about twice it's normal size.
Every whack of the boat on the waves sends a jolt up your spine, and as your arms move up and down, you start to feel an amazing amount of pain.
So much it seems surreal, like a new kind of sensation.
Once you're across the lake and down by the dock, somebody pulls up with the big Oldsmobile your dad loved to drive, and they help you into the back seat.
It's not as rough a ride as the boat, but that doesn't matter, because every mile up to the hospital makes you more aware of just how messed up you are.
At the first hospital, a tiny little place in the deep northwoods, they look at you and figure out that you need a real orhtopedic surgeon right way.
So they stick a big needle in your ass filled with demerol, and suddenly you're in half as much pain, but still hurting like you didn't think you could
Then they load you into the back of a station wagon, and all the way down the road for another 36 miles of rough backroads you cry and wimper and moan with each bump.
By the time you get to the second hospital, the surgeon's already there waiting, and he takes one look at you and orders up another shot of painkillers.
That second shot is pure, undiluted bliss. All the pain goes away, but unlike recreational opiate use, you don't feel stoned out, just an absence of pain and a surreal detatchment.
The doctor takes your left hand in his hands and pulls. The bone pops back into place, and your hands look almost right again to you. Not that it matters at that point. With that much dope in your system they could cut your head off and you would just smile as they did it.
You wake up the next day with an incrdibly sore ass from the needles full of painkiller, two broken wrists, a compressed pair of back fractures and a well bashed knee.
While you were out they drilled two holes all the way through your thumbs and stuck surgical steel pins through them, then anchored them into big plaster casts. For the next eight weeks, you try to figure out how to wipe your ass, drive your stick shift volkswagon bus and live without bending or twisting anything below your elbows but your fingers.
That's what it feels like to be in deep shock after falling off your damn horse.
And I'd still be riding them if I lived somewhere I could both keep and afford them.

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"Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis." Ralph Waldo Emerson